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Survivor: ‘Good Christian man’ took control, saved 7 people in Virginia Beach shooting

Posted at 11:30 PM, Jun 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-03 09:31:55-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. --  A survivor is praising her slain colleague for saving lives inside Building Two during the Virginia Beach Municipal Center shooting Friday afternoon.

Christi Dewar believes she might not have survived if it was not for the quick-thinking of her coworker, Ryan Keith Cox.

Before he was killed, Cox, who went by Keith, helped guide seven people to safety, WTKR reported. 

Shooting victim said 'I need to check on some other people,' survivor says  

Dewar said in an interview Sunday that she was inside Building Two just after 4 p.m. when she heard some pops.

At first Dewar thought it was just construction noise, but then a colleague alerted she and her colleagues about the active shooter and told them to run out of the building.

"We started running towards the south staircase," Dewar recounted. "Somebody screamed, 'It's too late -- run the other way!'"

In the harrowing seconds that followed, the group of seven turned and met Cox. Dewar said he calmly directed the group into a nearby office, but refused to join them.

"I said, 'Keith, come on!'" Dewar remembered. "He said, 'I need to check on some other people.' He didn't come in with us."

Then the group heard gunshots outside the door. Dewar said the shooter fired four times nearby.

After a little while, a police officer announced he was outside, so one of the group opened the door slightly.

That was when one of the group saw Cox's body.

"It breaks my heart," she said.

Eventually, police officers arrived and guided the group out of the building. As they went down the stairs, Dewar said she saw another body, only later realizing it was another coworker, Missy Langer.

"I stopped and I was shaking so hard and crying," Dewar said. "The officer grabbed my hand and squeezed me and said, 'Your'e strong. You can do this.'"

After the group made it out of the building, Dewar said she was interviewed by police and told them that Cox saved lives.

"He acted as a leader," Dewar said. "He positioned himself to be the one who would see what was happening and what needed to be done and where we needed to go. He took control of the situation."

Keith Cox remembered as 'good Christian man'

Dewar said she and Cox began working for the city on the same day in 2006.

Dewar said Cox was a "good Christian man" and that he was renowned for singing at New Hope Baptist Church, where his father was also a singer.

"He was the epitome of what everybody should be and strive to be," Dewar said.

Because of Cox's heroism, Dewar hopes the city will permanently honor him.

Dewar said she has also spoken with his family to tell them about his bravery.

"I credit Keith to the fact that I'm still here, that I can still hug my son, and hug my baby granddaughter," Dewar said.

Dewar wishes she could relay a last message to her hero:  "I adore you. I love you and I will miss you."